Instilling integrity and compassion, we nurture the personal development and positive wellbeing of each child as a person of individual gifts. Our students thrive as valued members of our inclusive community. Our graduates forge fulfilling lives of purpose and meaning.
The following core components of WES’s program are just a few notable ways that the school develops the whole child and best ensures that our graduates are prepared for, accepted to, and seamlessly transition to a range of top-tier secondary schools and beyond.
WES is an independent Episcopal school and a member of the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES) and the Mid-Atlantic Episcopal School Association (MAESA). WES is affiliated with the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, which comprises over 38,000 people in the District of Columbia and Montgomery, Prince George’s, Charles, and Saint Mary’s counties in Maryland. As an Episcopal school, WES is a Christian-based community whose mission integrates spiritual formation into all aspects of the educational experience. WES has a full-time Chaplain who teaches and affirms the beliefs and traditions of the Episcopal Church while also celebrating religious diversity. Additionally, a representative of the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington serves on WES’s Board of Trustees, and WES regularly invites and welcomes the diocesan bishop to the school’s campus for meetings, Chapels, and other large school events.
*In practice, Episcopal principles and ideals are expressed through
* From http://www.episcopalschools.org/episcopal-schools/episcopal-identity
Principles of Episcopal Schools
As the National Association of Episcopal Schools explains, as embodiments of the Christian faith, Episcopal schools are created to be communities that honor, celebrate, and worship God as the center of life. They are created to be models of God’s love and grace. They are created to serve God in Christ in all persons, regardless of origin, background, ability, or religion. They are created to “strive for justice and peace among all people and [to] respect the dignity of every human being.” Above all, Episcopal schools exist not merely to educate, but to demonstrate and proclaim the unique worth and beauty of all human beings as creations of a loving, empowering God. These principles are the basis on which identity and vocation are to be defined in Episcopal schools. By weaving these principles into the very fabric of the school’s overall life, WES ensures that our mission is built on the sure foundation of a Christian love that guides and challenges all who attend to build lives of genuine meaning, purpose, and service in the world they will inherit.
Episcopal schools are clear, yet graceful, about how they articulate and express their basic identities, especially in their religious curricula and traditions. They invite all who attend and work in them—Episcopalians and non-Episcopalians, Christians and non-Christians, people of no faith tradition—both to seek clarity about their own beliefs and religions and to honor those traditions more fully and faithfully in their own lives.*
Virtues of the Month
Our specially designed curriculum includes a comprehensive two-year cycle for teaching one virtue per month–18 virtues in all–engaging the members of the entire community in a unified focus on a featured virtue.
Chapel and Religion Class
Students attend both Chapel and religion class to discuss the virtues and other important topics. They learn Biblical stories about God’s love for creation and humanity; the literature, characters, and themes of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and the New Testament; the beginning of the Christian faith; some of the major holidays, traditions, and people from other world religions; and more.
(*Excerpted from the National Association of Episcopal Schools)
Washington Episcopal School in Bethesda, Maryland includes grades from Early Childhood (age 3) through Grade 8. We believe this model best serves the educational, social, and emotional needs of our students. This model is supported by a number of underlying precepts.
Continuity and Confidence: Creating a strong academic foundation.
It is our conviction that the continuity of the academic program is important. Elementary programs need to build year by year in a consistent format on the skills acquired in preceding grades. Grades 7 and 8 represent a culmination of that development and those skills.
Ensuring all levels and types of development are addressed.
The years from 11 – 14 are full of change over which a young person has little control. Boys and girls strive to cope with the rapidly emerging facets of their personalities, abilities, and physical growth. They are beginning the difficult transition from childhood to adulthood at a time when the only thing that seems constant is change. A key feature of the N-8 model is that the middle schoolers are senior members of the student body. A stand-alone middle school or a school that goes through Grade 12 cannot offer this opportunity.
Being the oldest students in the school gives an inherent vote of confidence to young adolescents. At a time when self-confidence can be shaky, it says, “Look how far you have come compared to the younger children” rather than “Look how far you have to go compared to high schoolers.”
We encourage the maturity and leadership of the middle schoolers by having them work with the younger students, a practice that benefits both age groups.
Enabling a strong and confident transition to the next phase of development.
Students graduate at a time when they are best able to make a smooth transition to a new school. A student in Grade 8 has a far better idea of the high school best suited to his or her needs than a sixth-grader.
Equally important, they are also more ready to adapt to a new school environment, having left some of the “growing pains” of early adolescence behind and been allowed to develop a genuine, grounded self-confidence.
The Advantages for Younger Students: Kids Can Stay Kids
WES students stand out without burning out through transformative educators, an extraordinary and connected student learning experience, and optimal learning support systems. Grounded in current research and best practices that balance tradition and innovation, WES provides a dynamic learning environment where all students learn core subject matter and executive functioning skills as well as enrichment subjects within the fine arts, performing arts, and sports and athletics.
Early Childhood learning is noisy, active, and surprising. Our curriculum for these critical years provides the whole child with hands-on experience, exploration, fun, and adventure. The bar rises in Grades 1, 2, and 3, and students meet the challenge. While the classroom sharpens the minds, the community strengthens character. Empowered with increasing knowledge and skills, students in Grades 4 and 5 tackle a broader range of independent and activity-driven challenges in academics, the arts, and life. The Middle School balances rigorous academics with an intimate atmosphere and nurturing community in which adolescents can thrive. Middle School students still have plenty of time for recess and fun.
WES strives to give its students a remarkable education and the time to fully enjoy their childhood.
Click HERE to see the outstanding schools WES students attend upon graduation.
WES Diversity Mission Statement
Washington Episcopal School is a diverse community, where the uniqueness of each member of the school is celebrated. The WES goal is to educate the whole child in order to prepare each student to become a citizen of the world. At WES, a diverse student body and broad-based academic excellence go hand-in-hand.
Our learning environments present students and adults with the opportunity to freely share a range of ideas and experiences to enrich academic, social, and moral growth.
WES celebrates the differences in our ethnicities, cultures, learning styles, physical abilities, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status. The contributions of each community member are encouraged and welcomed and incorporated into the learning experience. As an Episcopal school, WES is dedicated to the Episcopal Church’s mission of social justice and strives to challenge prejudice, intolerance, racism, and oppression.
The Office of Admission and Administration regularly reach out to a variety of communities to welcome prospective families to WES so that they may learn about WES and apply for admission.
Currently, WES students represent:
Faculty & Staff
WES attends at least two hiring and recruiting fairs including the Eastern Educational Resource Collaborative (East Ed) Diversity Fair and the Nemnet Career Fair for Educators to recruit and hire a breadth of faculty. East Ed supports schools in establishing equitable, anti-bias, and multicultural environments. Nemnet is a national diversity recruitment and consulting firm that assists schools and organizations in the recruitment and retention of diverse teachers, administrators, and coaches. The administration also attends conferences and workshops that focus on reducing bias in the hiring process.
Student Multicultural Activities
WES strives to incorporate diversity throughout the school’s program with varied course materials, teaching methods, guest speakers, and learning activities that support and celebrate our diverse group of students and the contributions of a wide range of minority groups and individuals. WES wants all children to positively see themselves and their peers in a wide range of studies, professions, and industries.
WES faculty annually attend professional development diversity-focused conferences and workshops to do this important work and to keep up-to-date on best practices. The WES administration regularly invites experts in this field to present to faculty, staff, and parents to provide tips, tools, and techniques at WES and at home. WES hosts a variety of schoolwide annual events like a Global Fair and special diversity-focused school speakers.
Diversity, Equity, and Justice Committee
In October 2015 WES formed the Diversity, Equity, and Justice Committee comprised of faculty and parents. This committee remains committed to the group’s founding three work objectives :
WES students are on the move and getting hands-on experience each year! Students take study trips around the Washington DC metro area, in the US, and abroad in Europe. Whether the destination is around the beltway to feel the soft hair on a baby goat at the farm or to closely examine the 470 BC Greek fresco Diver’s Tomb in Paestum, Italy, all of the senses are engaged. These first-hand experiences provide jumping-off points for students to ask questions, read more, and to explore and embrace the world around them. Students at every grade level are involved in our extensive and unique study trips program.
Like so much at WES, one experience builds on another, exponentially increasing the benefits. So it is with the school’s study trips which progress from fifth- through eighth-grade. They travel to Civil War sites, the Desert Southwest, cross the ocean to tour Italy, and then conclude their adventures with a trip to France or Spain in Grade 8.
Grade 5 – Civil War in our Area (Overnight)
Fifth-graders take the first step with an overnight trip that includes the Civil War sites of Antietam and Harpers Ferry. Through reenactments and guest speakers, students experience the drama of the pivotal battles fought along Bloody Lane and at Burnside Bridge, Antietam landmarks. The second day, students tour Harpers Ferry to learn about John Brown’s raid and the role this historic city played in the Civil War.
Grade 6 – Geology and History of the Desert Southwest (One Week)
WES sixth-grade students travel to the Desert Southwest to study geology, history, and Native American culture. Visits to Bryce and Zion National Parks give students field opportunities to apply their classroom knowledge of rock and water cycles as they observe the impact of weathering, erosion, and chemical change on this vast environment. Students also travel down the Colorado River, visit with Navajo Indians, and learn how Mormon pioneers settled this corner of the US.
Grade 7 – History and Culture of Italy (Nine Days)
Students experience Italian history and culture by visiting museums, historical landmarks, temples, churches, ruins, and other sites. Students see Greek temples in Paestum, investigate the ancient ruins of Pompeii, visit the Etruscan tombs of Tarquinia, explore several Umbrian hill towns, and visit many of the ancient sites in Rome. This 9-day trip to Italy provides culminating experiences in Geography, Latin, Art, Religion, and History.
Grade 8 – Present and Past in France and Spain (Two Weeks)
Several years of language study in either French or Spanish are put to use first as WES hosts students from France and Spain and then as our students participate in two-week, home-stay trips to Paris or Granada. Guided by WES teachers during the day, students explore the history, art, and culture of these cities. Students complete a journal and sketchbook project to record what they see and learn. At night and on weekends they “live” the culture of their host countries by spending time with their French and Spanish “families.”
Coed environments teach students to have respect for their peers, expose them to different viewpoints, and break down gender-related stereotypes. While WES regularly sends several of the school’s graduates to single-sex schools for high school, the school believes that it is vital for students to work together and learn from one another prior to college and beyond. A coed education provides students with the following attributes:
Students attending a coed school (both independent and public) feel more confident expressing their views in the presence of opposite-sex peers.
Coed school students are more likely than students of single-sex schools to agree that their peers respect members of the opposite sex.
Students at coed schools indicate that they make friends easily with members of their own sex (80%) and members of the opposite sex (72%). For these students, there is a stark contrast with their peers attending independent single-sex schools, of whom only 58% report making friends easily with students of the other gender.
Each gender has a perspective to offer the other. Working together in the classroom and on homework assignments provides boys and girls the opportunity to learn from each other intellectually as well as socially.
*Extrapolated from The Strategic Counsel, a leading Canadian research firm. Published in a presentation titled, Selecting an independent school. The Benefits of the Co-educational Environment.
The purpose of the dress code is to encourage neatness, a sense of appropriate attire, and school pride. Students in N-P-K have a more relaxed dress code. A well-defined dress code, however, applies to all students in Grades 1-8, with a number of alternative items. Two types of uniforms are used for Grades 1-8: “dress uniform” and “options for daily wear.” Students in Grades 2-8 also have a PE uniform.
Our students start their day focusing on their relationships with their peers and not what each other is wearing. Uniforms allow students to more easily build school spirit and showcase their individualism through their personality and achievements.
Hear from our Grade 8 students about the many ways they get to be school leaders and mentors at WES. The school’s curriculum provides opportunities throughout the school day for our Middle Schoolers to develop their confidence and share their experiences and advice with students in the lower grades.
"We are so thankful to have had WES as an option; our child LOVES school, heads out happily each morning, and buckles down to do homework right after school. As parents, we were blown away by the enthusiasm, professionalism, and intelligence of the teachers. We know our child will be well prepared for high school, whether returning to MCPS or continuing on at an independent school."
— Lynn Miller, Current WES Parent
View the WES viewbook!
We warmly invite you to learn more about the character, curriculum, and community of our school. The overview of WES in our viewbook provides a great place to start. We encourage you to continue your journey of exploration by scheduling a campus visit to better experience all that WES has to offer.